When I first started making prayer beads, I made them as an act of repentance, as a self-imposed penance for the first time I messed around with witchcraft. I went on to dabble in witchcraft three times, once fairly deeply, until I realized that I missed the body and blood of Christ which spiritually sustained me. On June 23, 2019, I officially was “reaffirmed” into the Episcopal Church by the Right Reverend Brian Seage, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. This means I made a public renewal of my baptismal vows, which I had broken. Not that I made vows when I was baptized three times in the fundamentalist cult I was born into, but I had made those vows both at my confirmation and at the baptism of my children.
The crescent moon tattoo on my right arm was done when I first began to delve into witchcraft, and sometimes I want to regret that tattoo but now I see that it’s part of the story. Prayer beads were very meaningful to me when I first tried them. At first I was afraid to try them because, as a priest said at a street fair when I asked them if they sold prayer beads “we don’t need any trinkets in order to speak to God, we go straight to God” and this is basically what I’d always been told. It turns out that what I’d always been told wasn’t truth, not this time and not a lot of other times either. But I longed to try them, because this whole spontaneous prayer thing wasn’t working for me, because my prayers mostly consisted of begging God to help me with my bad circumstances or cursing God out for said bad circumstances.
The kind of prayer that I had been taught was no longer working for me, and to be honest I don’t think it was really working for God either. I got to the point where I could not pray at all, except for the liturgy every Sunday, and I knew that God would understand. But I still longed to pray. I expressed an interest in trying to use the Episcopal/Anglican rosary, and a friend from my church gifted me a set. I began to use them almost every day, and it was amazing. Although the fundamentalists insisted that rote, memorized prayers were wrong, they were wrong about that too. They called them “vain repetitions” and claimed that the Bible was against them and that meant we were too.
It was through the use of prayer beads that I began to understand that prayer wasn’t necessarily about me. It was about focusing on God, about quietening my heart, about listening. I also got involved in centering prayer which was a unique experience and one I do periodically when I have an extended period of time, but prayer beads are great for when I only have ten minutes. I’m also learning about breath prayers right now and those are meaningful as well. The beads help me to calm my anxious brain and focus, using my sense of touch to help me to pay attention to the prayers.
I began just making a set for myself, and in fact I just gifted that set to a special friend, and it was almost as meaningful and significant as using them myself, realizing that I was helping other people to pray. I sell the beads for $35 a set or 2 for $60. I use beautiful beads, usually gemstones, because prayer is beautiful and holy and I wanted the rosaries to be beautiful also.